I’ve been shell-shocked in the wake of the UCSB shootings. The violence was horrific, yes, but I’ve found myself horrified as much by the internet response as by the shootings themselves (not linking to any of it- but people are supporting the actions of that horrible man because, you know, people should have had sex with him). Add to that the fact that last week already saw the suicide of a college student who had been outed as having appeared in an adult film and subsequently tormented, the world’s impulse to in the blame for the shootings on mental illness and go on our merry way (check out this piece by Jessica Valenti, it’s one of the best things on this case I have seen) and the fact that a copycat case has already cropped up and I have felt moved to curl up with my new pup and hide from the world.
My mind is spinning and I want to share with you some of what is spinning through it because I think many of you will be able to relate. So, here it is (in no particular order, except the last one), my list of 22 things I have thought about in the days since the UCSB shootings, when you’re done here go check out #YesAllWomen on twitter— it’s pretty amazing:
1. I rarely (if ever) hear men told to “calm down” when they have feelings about things.
2. Really, “calm down” is just a socially acceptable way of saying “shut up”.
3. This tweet and all the times I knew I was going to end up doing something no one else (including me) wanted to because I couldn’t handle the back and forth debate and would just give in.
"When a man says no in this culture, it’s the end of the discussion. When a woman says no, it’s the beginning of a negotiation” #YesAllWomen
— Emily Thomas (@emitoms) May 26, 2014
4. The times I didn’t say anything because I already knew the reasons people would say it was my fault.
5. The ways I have been asked, from my schoolyard bullies to emotionally abusive boyfriends to “think about where they are coming from”
6. This tweet and the fact that it’s true
My boyfriend trying to soothe me about crime maps: "you know most of those aren't rapes because most rapes aren't reported"
— Epiphora (@Epiphora) May 15, 2014
7. The way people hide behind “mental illness” to make this look like an isolated thing
8. The way people turn acts of violence into witch hunts for the mentally ill (PS- these registries of the mentally ill folks keep proposing, they would stigmatize folks like myself, with my decade of depression. Who do you fear more, the girl with 50 vibrators or the guy with 20 guns, you know, for protection?)
9. The way turning this into an isolated incident is basically the same thing people do after a rape. “Well it happened because she_______, ergo it couldn’t happen to me”
10. The way the world turns on women who do not act exactly as it wants. Don’t fuck them? Friend-zoning bitch. Fuck freely of your own accord? Whore.
11. My ex who is still screwing with me 5.5 months after the end of out 6 month relationship. Because, how dare I?
13. The conversation I had to have with my mother and brother when I was 20 – “I am doing everything I can to not get raped, as you’ve been telling me to for 10 years. Please stop, the anxiety is starting to affect my social functionality”
14. When folks share my piece about the Friend Zone being fake and say “I love this, but the friend zone totally happens”
Because the friendzone is the fictional exile of the entitled. “Sexual partner” is not a woman’s default mode. #yesallwomen
— Harrison Mooney (@HarrisonMooney) May 25, 2014
15. This quote from The Punk Singer (the Kathleen Hanna documentary that you should totally watch) “When a man tells a truth, it is accepted as truth. There’s no questioning or doubting that truth. When a woman tells a truth, there’s a suspicion, a suspicion that she is exaggerating”
16. The way the world assumes my sex positive non-monogamous status comes with bisexuality and that I am the key to that FMF threesome they’ve always wanted /will make out with a woman for their amusement at any moment.
17. The violations I have forgiven because they weren’t as bad as they could have been. Because the idea of actual bodily autonomy was radical.
18. The men who have tried to bully/harass me into dating them and gotten mean when it didn’t work.
19. The times walking down a street, through a train car, down a hall, across a restaurant or anywhere else has left me feeling like I was just felt up by an entire room.
20. How scared I get when I hear foot steps behind me at night. The feeling that every strange man might be a rapist.
21. The time I saw a man, in the same paragraph, argue that “men get raped to, you know!”* and that the woman who regards all male strangers as potential rapists “must be mentally ill because that’s not healthy” and I thought- “That’s the difference”
22. The fact that I just looked at the list, worried that I would offend someone and wondered if any of this was really worthy, if any of it was “bad enough” because I know how much worse goes on.
*To be clear, I am not contesting that assertion. All forms of human can and do get sexually assaulted. I am not now denying, nor have I ever denied that.